Engineer: Private industry needs more engagement in post Dorian recovery

Engineer: Private industry needs more engagement in post Dorian recovery
Bahamas Society of Engineers (BSE) President Quentin Knowles.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Society of Engineers (BSE) president yesterday expressed his ‘disappointment’ that private industry professionals have not been more heavily engaged in Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts.

In an interview with Eyewitness News Online BSE president Quentin Knowles said, “I will be honest I’m a bit disappointed that private industry hasn’t been engaged as much as they could have. We have a substantial amount fo expertise that could be drawn upon.  I have sat on a few meetings and given some advice where I can but there hasn’t been any real engagement,” said Mr Knowles.

An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report released last month pegged Hurricane Dorian’s damage to the housing sector on Abaco and Grand Bahama at an estimated $1.48 billion. In its report, “Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas”, the IDB found the housing sector was the most severely affected by Hurricane Dorian. The report  noted that approximately 9,000 homes and in excess of 11 million square feet of structures have sustained some damage on the two islands. On Abaco more than 75 percent of the dwellings were somehow affected, approximately 57 percent of the houses were severely damaged. Central Abaco (Marsh Harbour), Treasure Cay, and Hope Town were the most affected locations.

Knowles told Eyewitness News Online, “My thought is that we have witnessed a catastrophic situation and no one in our lifetime has experienced something like this.You need to have access to all fo the minds available and those who are willing to assist. You have to use them particularly the engineers, architects and contractors. There is a lot of advice  and knowledge that can be brought to bear in dealing with this issue.”

He added, “My fear is that a small group of government officials or people within various agencies are making key decisions. We are not mandating that we be the decision makers but at least draw heavily on us for advice, guidance and assistance. The reconstruction will happen and there are things I think we can advise the government on in terms of facilitating that.” Mr Knowles noted that as reconstruction ramps up particularly on Abaco, finding housing for the necessary construction workers will be an issue that needs to be addressed.